Sunday, 31 July 2016

Pinchas Commentary by David Lipschitz

Pinchas: Numbers 25:10 - 30:1

I believe in studying all the sacred texts as I believe that there is value in all of them. At the moment, I am studying: Jewish (Torah), Christian (Bible), Buddhist (Dharma), Muslim (Qur'an) and Tao Te Ching (Dao) (The Way of Life by Lao Tzu) texts. I believe that everything else is commentary ...

The Parasha (portion of the week) that the Progressive Jewish congregation is reading in the Torah (The Five Books of Moses) this week is Pinchas. The Progressive Community are currently a week ahead of the Orthodox Community, in the annual reading cycle of the Torah, and we can discuss why this is, if anyone wants to know.

And it says that "God is a jealous God." But this goes against all my learning. How can God be Jealous? Isn't God above jealousy, above hatred, above coveting, above anger?

My Jewish and Christian translations on this portion translate the Hebrew word Kina (קנא) as Jealousy. This word קנא is also used in the Ten Commandments. My Christian translation keeps קנא meaning Jealousy, but my Jewish translation of קנא in the Ten Commandments is Passion. God is a Passionate God.

And if one delves into the Etymology of Passion, one finds a reference to Jesus's Passion and then one finds that Jesus's Passion was the Suffering of all people, and then one gets to Samsara, if one is in a Buddhist frame of Mind.

And then one gets to the core of being a Bodhisattva and Bodhicitta: Achieving enlightenment and then returning time and again to help other sentient beings achieve enlightenment. Jesus is potentially an emanation of Chenrezig! Chenrezig is the embodiment of Compassion.

And then I searched for "Kinah Gematria" and I found this:

Gematria is about looking at the numerical value of a word. Each letter in Hebrew has a numerical equivalent. Once one knows the numerical equivalent of a word, one can do mathematics and find other words on the Torah with the same value and do some mental arithmetic.

And the link contains a very good meditation which I would like to do with the class.

In the linked article, one of God's names is spelt as (א-ק-י-ה). In religious "dogma" one doesn't write God's name unless one is praying, so one writes a ק instead of a ה. ie a K instead of a H. If one writes a H, one gets the Hebrew word Ehiye, which is used in the phrase "I am that I am". Moses asks God "who are you?" and God replies "I am that I am". See Exodus 3:14.

Note that many people write God as G-d. This is done in case the paper that the word God is on is destroyed. But God is not God's name and none of us really knows what God's name actually is. "I am that I am" is possibly the closest we will get.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Online friendship

A post I just made on Facebook:

Dear friends.
Over the past few weeks, I've been realising that I've been spending way too long on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
Part of the reason for this is because of all the time I put into "friendships".
I thought I could reduce my number of Facebook friends from over 1,000 to 150 in one go, but after 3 go's last night I am at 473 friends.
The 150 comes from one of Malcolm Gladwell's books where he says that it is impossible to have a true relationship with more than 150 people. For example a "company" in the army is usually 150 people for this reason.
Well maybe 150 was the optimal number when the book was written or when personal relationships required physical presence and time.
This is the 21st Century and who knows, maybe things have changed? Maybe 500 is workable now. And especially bearing in mind the approximately 8,000 contacts I still have in total on all my networks.
But on Facebook I want to have my real friends, the people I share personal stuff with, whilst my other networks can be business.
I know that for me the lines between business and personal are blurred. My life is my work. But I don't live to work. And I don't work to live. I have "become". And I do tend to share personal stuff at work, so who knows what I'm really saying here? Perhaps just that I want to put more time into fewer friends.
So I'm happy to be under 500 on Facebook.
I'll see how this works out and then if necessary I'll go through the reduction process again.
I only want to be friends with people who interact with me. Not just because you are my family or my cousin or my friend from school, who perhaps I talk to once a year or see at parties.
So if you want to unfriend me because you feel that "I'm not contributing to our relationship" then that's ok with me.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Protect The Past: letter in the Cape Times on Thursday 18th February 2016

Letter in the Cape Times on Thursday 18th February 2016 after the students burnt paintings, art and other objects at the University of Cape Town:

Protect The Past

One of the reasons we know so little about the past is because it has been destroyed and burnt so often. And then we have people who spend huge amounts of time trying to find out about their past or the world's past or the universe's past.
We should be past destroying the past, so that we can fully understand the present, and always remember the good and bad of the past. And one person's "good" past might be another person's "bad" past.
If we are to grow and eliminate racism and other challenges in our society, we must protect the past, perhaps move it to a special museum, but never destroy it. It will always be there!