Friday, November 23, 2012

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue XLIX

What to Feed Your Soul

The 'other' weekly news magazine this week features, just in time for Thanksgiving reading, What to Eat Now [click to read]. While not disparaging the discussion of good nutrition, THYME explores the satisfaction of a different sort of hunger.

On November 7th, many of us awoke to a gnawing inside that would not be satisfied by any meal. We saw ourselves losing our beloved country. It was an emptiness that could not be explained away. Steve Elliott of Grassfire offered this bit of wisdom from Jeremiah 29: 

Build! Plant! Bless! And Pray!


"Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
(After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;)

By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;

Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;

Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.

For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." -- Jeremiah 29:1-14

Did you know that: "Jews make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions." -- David Brooks

I found an interesting article by Rabbi Nathan Lopez Cardozo in Jewish World Review. The Greatest Chess Game on Earth [click to read] shows how the people who followed Jeremiah's advice learned how, not only to survive, but to thrive in exile. After the destruction of the Temple, the development of small fellowships in Synagogues fed the spiritual hunger of those who had been carried away. Central to this community were the Holy Scriptures. Rabbi Lopez gives us a unique perspective on the Scripture. We should not see the constraints of Faith as restrictive. Rather, they are the structural rules which allow us to pursue great works, and in the process bless those around us.

The game of Chess, Cardozo writes, has strict rules. Yet, within these rules there are an unlimited amount of possibilities:

"He who knows all the rules is not automatically a good player. What makes him a great player is his ability to use these rules to unleash an outburst of creativity, which resides deep within him and emerges only because of the "unbearable" limitations. He then strikes! One small move forces everything to shift around, creating total upheaval and causing the opponent to panic as he never did before. And all this without ever violating one chess rule. This is mental torture. But it is also the height of beauty. It is the poetry of the game, like a melody is to music. Like one gentle brushstroke of Rembrandt on a colorful canvas, making everything look radically different, or like the genius musician playing her Stradivarius, re-creating the whole of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5. It transports the chess player to heaven. His body must be in top form because his playing ability deteriorates when his body does. Body and mind are inseparable. An entire world of feelings, images, ideas, emotions and passions come to the forefront." -- Rabbi Cardozo

Rabbi Cardozo offers deep nourishment for the journey ahead, as well as unique insight into how to live in the light of Holy Scripture. I LOVE the implications of his final thoughts:

" Surely chess is just a game, while Halacha, if properly understood and lived, deals with real life, deep religiosity, moral dilemmas, emotions and intuitions far more significant in man's life than a chess game.

But the man who plays chess in real life as suggested by Halacha will realize that if he "plays" well he is on the track to drawing closer and closer to the King, until he is checkmated and, unlike in a chess game, falls into the arms of the King." -- Rabbi Cardozo

The woods I played in as a boy...

...still offer endless adventures.


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