Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cycles of Life are the Secret of Life

היום שנים ושלשים יום, שהם ארבעה שבועות וארבה ימים, בעמר
Today is thirty-two days, which is four weeks and four days, of the omer
נצח שבהוד
A day of perseverance in a week of humility

In my teaching at the Federation yesterday on today's Torah portion, Emor, I talked about the holiday cycle of the Jewish year, which is described in this part of the Torah in the context of ritual practice. We discussed the different layers of the holidays--dependence on solar or lunar calendar, agricultural considerations, representations of historical milestones, and influence on the spiritual life of our people.

Having an acute awareness of the Jewish calendar has given me an appreciation of the different ways we mark the cycle of the years. Seemingly small customs have their own way of differentiating the seasons. For example, I know where we are in the year by the state of my plastic bag collection.

I collect the plastic bags I use to hold my produce from the farmers' market each week to recycle their use. In the summer into the fall, the bounty of fruit and vegetables increases each week, and I get more bags than I can use. The collection grows rapidly. With the onset of winter, there is less produce available, and I begin to use more bags than I get. With the start of spring, my stash is visibly lower.

Right now, I have hit the low point in bags, and the first stone fruits have begun to appear. I'm about even in my get/use bag ratio. The scales will start to tip in the get direction, and summer will bring in more and more bags, leading to the overflowing storage bin. The cycle begins again.

As James Taylor teaches of us---the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time---try not to try to hard, it's just a lovely ride.

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