Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Last year, there was a bit of a storm in the Catholic world when the pope seemed to have appeared in a fire in Poland commemorating the second anniversary of his death. The picture is the one you see above. It was suggested that the pope, who had made many pilgrimages during his life, was still making them after his death. Around that time, I had noticed a tear in my lampshade in my office at the shul, one that I really liked, and was disappointed to see ripped.
Now, I am not saying that the pope appeared in my lampshade. Nor am I qualified to say whether the pope did or did not appear in the fire since my theology generally doesn't account for such things. Furthermore, I would hope that the pope would try and land somewhere he would hear more than bar mitzvah lessons. But there is something to be learned, I think, about when something in life conditions you to look for things, you are more likely to find them (see the gorilla video below). In last weeks parasha, we were reminded of the blessings and punishments that we would receive if we did the mitzvot and whereas I think it is important to be reminded of consequences from time to time, a much better way to get people to do mitzvot is to simply remind them to look for opportunities to do them.
As we enter the book of Bamidbar (the desert), perhaps we can use this notion that the desert was so important us because it showed the Israelites that even in wide open, seemingly barren places, there were and are opportunities to do good things and the mitzvot. One just needs to look for them.