October 6, 2012 Leave a comment
The first half of sukkot (Tabernacles) rained on-and-off, and one of the theodicy challenges present there is the conflict between the conflict to dwell (really, “eat”) in the sukkah and the admonition that one should not do so if it is raining lest one be considered a hasid shoteh (pious fool) in the eyes of God – how precisely should we deal with these challenges where God tells us to do something and then doesn’t let us do it?
In some part, that is a microcosm of my larger theodicy challenge over the past couple of years with regard to Sarah’s and my attempt to enlarge our family – I’m commanded to have children (for intriguing reasons of Jewish law, women aren’t obligated to have children- only men are – but those reasons aren’t relevant here), but we haven’t been able to do so. Each failure has burned itself into memory indelibly, making me far more familiar than I ever wanted to be with the wrong end of an OB/RE’s office.
Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
– from Longfellow, “The Rainy Day”
It’s tempting to preemptively give up – to see a darkening of the sky and presume that this means that the storm is inevitable – and yet, only today I noticed this in Kohelet:
:שמר רוח לא יזרע וראה בעבים לא יקצור
כאשר אינך יודע מה דרך הרוח כעצמים בבטן המלאה ככה לא תדע את מעשה האלהים אשר יעשה את הכל׃
:בבקר זרע את זרעך ולערב אל תנח ידך כי אינך יודע אי זה יכשר הזה או זה ואם שניהם כאחד טובים
He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the work of God who doeth all things. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (translation from Mechon-Mamre.org)
And if I needed a swifter kick in the pants from God, the post today predicted stormy weather starting at 5PM. However, walking home, we saw extremely dark clouds, and the consensus was that we would be lucky to make kiddush (the first blessing, lit. “sanctification”) in the sukkah before the rain came. Long story short, there was a lot of threatening, but no rain: we had a lovely meal with a lovely bunch of friends which went until after 4.
Lesson received, God, thank you.
One nice thing about the meal is that while our six guests are all over the place politically (some to my right [a little bit], more to my left [a lot], I’m pleased to say that we’ve been able to maintain civility and comity even in these divisive times. On a separate note, I got introduced to a new delicious and reasonably priced wine – Recanati Yasmin (I had 2009, while that link is to the 2010). Delightful!
But all in all, it sure is nice that we got to have one of our large meals actually start, continue, and finish in the sukkah.