Friday, April 25, 2008

Miracles abound...

Miracle is thrown around as a word. There are the Catholics who have strict definitions for what can be considered miraculous. The rest of us speak of the miracle of birth, Joe DiMaggio's miraculous hitting streak... among other things. For me there artists whose work hinges on miracles. The individual who can take a brush and some pigment and create the Mona Lisa, or hunks of metal and create wonderful gates for the Martin Luther King center (specifically, my cousin the blacksmith, Corinna Mensoff). But also there is something supernatural about taking a hunk of clay which on sale can be bought for 99 cents and turning it into a thing of beauty.
ayalool is one of those polymer clay artists from Israel who has that touch, whether it be her hamsa mobile or a salt and pepper shaker. Take a look at her flickr site and see what she does with canes.

As we approach the uniquely Jewish malady of MSP (Matzah Saturation Point), we detour from the weekly Torah reading schedule and revisit the origins of the Passover story with a special Pesach reading from Exodus, including: “Thus the Lord delivered Israel that day from the Egyptians…And when Israel saw the wondrous power which the Lord had wielded against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord; they had faith in the Lord and His servant Moses.”

In other words, “I see, therefore I believe.” But what happens when we don’t “see.” How much of our faith is based on “proof”, and how much depends, well, on faith? How many of us, upon witnessing a magnificent natural wonder – such as a beautiful sunset or the joy of childbirth – have expressed awe in God’s work? And how many of us lose that inspiration rather quickly when facing a 3-mile backup on 285?

During the Passover seder we retold the Exodus story and the miracles which led to the creation of the Jewish people. We need to be reminded – at least yearly – that miracles do happen, but not every day. And perhaps not in the most obvious ways. The challenge is to integrate faith bolstered by miracles with faith challenged by everyday life. The best way to do so is to remind ourselves that by incorporating the teachings of the Torah in our everyday actions toward others, we create the necessary foundation for a just, moral and – dare we say – miraculous society.

Shabbat Shalom
(Steve Rakitt, President Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta)

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