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Shabbat, June 26, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

In the year 2448 from Creation (1313 BCE), Tammuz 16 was the 40th day following the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the people of Israel wrongly expected Moses' return from the mountain (he would actually return on the following day). When their leader failed to return, they demanded from Aaron: "Make us a god that shall go before us". Hur (Moses' nephew, the son of Miriam and Caleb) tried to stop them and was killed by the mob. Aaron fashioned a calf of molten gold.

Links:
The Making of the Golden Calf (text of Exodus 32 with Rashi's commentary)
An anthology of Midrashim and Commentaries on the making of the Calf
The Day Before (on the deeper significance of Tammuz 16, from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
More on the Golden calf
See also "Today in Jewish History" for tomorrow, Tammuz 17.

Laws and Customs

During the summer months, from the Shabbat after Passover until the Shabbat before Rosh Hashahah, we study a weekly chapter of the Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers ("Avot") each Shabbat afternoon; this week we study Chapter Six.

Link: Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 6

Daily Thought

“Nothing bad descends from Above.” -R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi

In essence, all is good. There is nothing truly bad. In the Creator’s conception, every creature and everything that happens to every creature—all is sweet fruit from Eden.

But when that goodness emerges from G‑d’s thought and plays itself out on the stage of our earthly lives, it often looks really awful. Indeed, the most precious gifts of a lifetime tend to enter in the most life-disrupting ways.

Think of the screech that came out of your flute when you tried to play a high, sweet note. Or the jarring mess when you attempted a nice riff on your guitar. When you’re starting off, all the best stuff keeps coming out as noise.

In some faintly similar way, so too with life: The sweeter heaven’s blessings, the more they might taste like bitter curses.

Like well-intended words repeated in the wrong way to the wrong person at the wrong time—all context lost, all meaning completely inverted—so too, the warmest kisses from heaven can slap against your cheek like freezing rain.

Such is the order of heaven and earth in its present, unfinished stage. Ideas that look fantastic to the heavenly host make their landing here on earth with the most disastrous implementation. And it’s mostly because our world lacks a landing pad anywhere near large enough for such blinding conceptions.

The avenues of our hearts are too constricted, our neuropathways too tightly set and fixed. And our vision oh so strained that we can’t see beyond just the things we want and the acquirements that enslave us. Our entire world has simply not been tuned to receive divine goodness.

We inhabit a world of cacophony begging to be rearranged into music, words yearning to speak their true meaning, scenery just waiting to be moved into place—until all that occurs below will attain magnificent harmony with its origin above.

And how do we allow that to happen? Mostly by allowing ourselves to believe it’s already there.

You’ve likely heard the story of the recalcitrant child who turns out good because someone really believed in that kid. As art emerges from the hands of those who believe in art, kindness from hearts that believe in kindness, and science from minds who trust there is an explanation.

So too, a dark and bitter chapter of life is reframed into a higher context, redeemed, and revealed in all its glorious, delicious splendor by a soul that trusts that G‑d is good, and G‑d is One.

No matter how things may appear.

Open your mind, open your heart. Trust that all is good, and it will be good. Good beyond anything you could possibly imagine, but down to earth good.

Extracted from the last two lines of Igeret Hakodesh 11.