How to not live in Fear. This Sunday, 10 am, 5/17 at Adat Shalom

The world is a very scary place, but we do not have to live in fear. Jewish texts have a lot to offer us in facing the world with courage and optimism.

Everyone is welcome. Adat Shalom Synagogue, 5/17, 10 am.

Here is one of the texts we will look at. It is from the last chapter of the Talmudic Tractate of Blessings. Some of the texts will be comforting. Some will be challenging. They all will have something to say about confronting our deepest fears.

MISHNAH. IF ONE SEES A PLACE WHERE MIRACLES HAVE BEEN WROUGHT FOR ISRAEL, HE SHOULD SAY, BLESSED BE HE WHO WROUGHT MIRACLES FOR OUR ANCESTORS IN THIS PLACE.

ON SEEING A PLACE FROM WHICH IDOLATRY HAS BEEN EXTIRPATED, HE SHOULD SAY, BLESSED BE HE WHO EXTIRPATED IDOLATRY FROM OUR LAND.

[ON WITNESSING] SHOOTING STARS, EARTHQUAKES, THUNDERCLAPS, STORMS AND LIGHTNINGS ONE SHOULD SAY, BLESSED BE HE WHOSE STRENGTH AND MIGHT FILL THE WORLD. ON SEEING MOUNTAINS, HILLS, SEAS, RIVERS AND DESERTS HE SHOULD SAY, BLESSED BE HE WHO WROUGHT CREATION. R. JUDAH SAYS: IF ONE SEES THE GREAT SEA ONE SHOULD SAY, BLESSED BE HE WHO MADE THE GREAT SEA, [THAT IS] IF HE SEES IT AT [CONSIDERABLE] INTERVALS. FOR RAIN AND FOR GOOD TIDINGS ONE SAYS, BLESSED BE HE THAT IS GOOD AND BESTOWS GOOD.

FOR EVIL TIDINGS ONE SAYS, BLESSED BE THE TRUE JUDGE.

ONE WHO HAS BUILT A NEW HOUSE OR BOUGHT NEW VESSELS SAYS, BLESSED BE HE WHO HAS KEPT US ALIVE AND PRESERVED US AND BROUGHT US TO THIS SEASON.

OVER EVIL A BLESSING IS SAID SIMILAR TO THAT OVER GOOD AND OVER GOOD A BLESSING IS SAID SIMILAR TO THAT OVER EVIL, BUT TO CRY OVER THE PAST IS TO UTTER A VAIN PRAYER. IF A MAN’S WIFE IS PREGNANT AND HE SAYS, [GOD] GRANT THAT MY WIFE BEAR A MALE CHILD, THIS A VAIN PRAYER. IF HE IS COMING HOME FROM A JOURNEY AND HE HEARS CRIES OF DISTRESS IN THE TOWN AND SAYS, [GOD] GRANT THAT THIS IS NOT IN MY HOUSE, THIS IS A VAIN PRAYER.

ONE WHO [IN THE COURSE OF A JOURNEY] GOES THROUGH A CAPITAL CITY SHOULD SAY TWO PRAYERS, ONE ON ENTERING AND ONE ON LEAVING. BEN AZZAI SAYS, FOUR, TWO ON ENTERING AND TWO ON LEAVING- HE GIVES THANKS FOR PAST MERCIES AND SUPPLICATES FOR THE FUTURE.

IT IS INCUMBENT ON A MAN TO BLESS [GOD] FOR THE EVIL IN THE SAME WAY AS FOR THE GOOD, AS IT SAYS, AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART ETC. ‘WITH ALL THY HEART, MEANS WITH THY TWO IMPULSES, THE EVIL IMPULSE AS WELL AS THE GOOD IMPULSE; ‘WITH ALL THY SOUL’ MEANS, EVEN THOUGH HE TAKES THY SOUL [LIFE]; ‘WITH ALL THY MIGHT’ MEANS, WITH ALL THY MONEY. ANOTHER EXPLANATION OF ‘WITH ALL THY MIGHT [ME’ODEKA]’ IS, WHATEVER TREATMENT HE METES OUT TO THEE.

ONE SHOULD AVOID SHOWING DISRESPECT TO THE EASTERN GATE BECAUSE IT IS IN A DIRECT LINE WITH THE HOLY OF HOLIES. A MAN SHOULD NOT ENTER THE TEMPLE MOUNT WITH HIS STAFF OR WITH HIS SHOES ON OR WITH HIS WALLET OR WITH HIS FEET DUST-STAINED; NOR SHOULD HE MAKE IT A SHORT CUT [KAPPANDARIA], AND SPITTING [ON IT IS FORBIDDEN] A FORTIORI.

AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE BENEDICTIONS SAID IN THE TEMPLE THEY USED AT FIRST TO SAY SIMPLY, ‘FOR EVER’. WHEN THE SADDUCEES PERVERTED THEIR WAYS AND ASSERTED THAT THERE WAS ONLY ONE WORLD, IT WAS ORDAINED THAT THE RESPONSE SHOULD BE, FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING. IT WAS ALSO LAID DOWN THAT GREETING SHOULD BE GIVEN IN [GOD’S] NAME, IN THE SAME WAY AS IT SAYS, AND BEHOLD BOAZ CAME FROM BETHLEHEM AND SAID UNTO THE REAPERS, THE LORD BE WITH YOU; AND THEY ANSWERED HIM, THE LORD BLESS THEE; AND IT ALSO SAYS, THE LORD IS WITH THEE, THOU MIGHTY MAN OF VALOUR; AND IT ALSO SAYS, AND DESPISE NOT THY MOTHER WHEN SHE IS OLD; AND IT ALSO SAYS, IT IS TIME TO WORK FOR THE LORD; THEY HAVE MADE VOID THY LAW.

R. NATHAN SAYS: [THIS MEANS] THEY HAVE MADE VOID THY LAW BECAUSE IT IS TIME TO WORK FOR THE LORD.

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