Walkeshwar Temple, Malabar Hill, Mumbai, 1860. Photographer unknown. Public domain. A few days ago, I was putting away my second set of tefillin, when I dropped the one worn on my arm. It was in its protective case and landed upright undamaged on the floor. A friend picked it up and handed it to me. … Continue reading The Element of the Sacred
"Venice. The city of mirrors, the city of mirages." Photo by Vlad Hilitanu, Unsplash. I own an edition of The Harvard Classics. One of the frustrating things about it is the process I have to follow to locate something I want to read. All the books have the same front cover; the back covers are blank; … Continue reading Books, Covers, and Masks
Jacob’s Ladder, by Jacques Stella, Date: 1650. In the section of the Pentateuch that will be read in synagogue this coming Sabbath [Genesis 28:10 - 32.3], the patriarch Jacob is traveling, on rather short notice, to spend time with his uncle, his mother's brother. His brother, Esau, is angry with Jacob. He wants to kill … Continue reading Keep on Climbing
Shadows. Moonlit Night. Isaac Levitan. Original Title: Тени. Лунная ночь. Date: c.1885 In The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin writes about a “Sacred Tree.” He came upon it while traveling in the valley of the Rio Negro on his way to Bahía Blanca in Argentina in the company of an Englishman, a guide, and … Continue reading Between Hope and Fear
Plate 106 Black Vulture or Carrion Crow, John James Audubon. In Chapter 3 of The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin describes his work identifying the carrion-feeding hawks of South America. He writes the following about two of them—Carranchas and Chimangos. These false eagles most rarely kill any living bird or animal; and their vulture-like, … Continue reading A Token for His Protection
Ophelia, John Everett Millais, 1852. I was eleven years old when my mother enrolled me in the Boy Scouts of America. There was a Troop at my elementary school, and eleven was the minimum age to become a Tenderfoot Scout, the beginning rank in the Scouts at the time I joined. I don’t recall asking … Continue reading The Readiness Is All
Crew at the capstan of the 'Parma', weighing anchor, 1932-33. In chapter 2 of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom gets a group of boys to perform a job that he was supposed to do. At the end of the chapter, he thinks about what he had learned. Tom said to himself that … Continue reading Are You Turning Play into Work?
Gridiron Victoria: Geelong Buccaneers. Photo by John Torcasio. Unsplash. In “Seven Pillars of Faith,” Rabbi Yitzchok Breiter, a devoted follower of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, writes the following: The foundation of all of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings is to know and understand that everything that happens to us, both spiritually and materially, including what we ourselves … Continue reading Football and Free Will
Portrait of Russian poet Konstantin Batyushkov, 1815, by Nikolai Utkin. Do you believe in ghosts, shades, spirits? Do you think you have a soul that will survive the death of your body; or is your body all there is? What evidence would you have? This morning, as every morning, in the gray light of early … Continue reading What Evidence Would You Have?
“The Embrace” Some of my fondest memories as a child are of my mother’s singing to me. She was born and grew up in Appalachia. Most of the songs she sang were the hillbilly, bluegrass, or country songs she knew and loved. One of them, “The Knoxville Girl,” has an intriguing history, but I can’t … Continue reading Life’s Crooked Road