Reflections from Rabbi Waxman
Let us Give Thanks
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill: a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, land of olives trees and honey; a land where you may eat food without stint, where you lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose you can mine copper. When you have your fill, give thanks to the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. (Deuteronomy 8: 7-10)
That was the passage I thought I was to read at our annual communal Thanksgiving service on Sunday night. Instead, I read the familiar standby, Psalm 100 which is entitled “a Psalm of Thanksgiving,” as it was pivotal to the preacher’s sermon that evening. Now it is true that the Deuteronomic passage really refers to the land of Israel, but aside from the pomegranates and perhaps the olive trees, much of the passage seems to describe our nation, blessed with abundant crops and vast underground resources—far more metals found here than in Israel. The bottom line is the final verse: to be thankful for all the blessings we enjoy.
In his column this past Saturday, Rabbi Marc Gellman shared the identities of some of the people for whom he was thankful, ranging from the movers to busboys (and bartenders—adding that his son now serves as a bartender). I would add to that list.
I am thankful for all those who have expanded our palates. Compare in your mind the produce section of a supermarket today with what it carried thirty years ago. I am thankful for those who introduced these fruits and vegetables to us, to those who grow this produce, for those who harvest it, ship it, and for those who ensure its freshness and who put it on display so we can purchase it.
I am thankful for journalists in all the media who keep us informed and who offer insight into the events of the day.
I am thankful for living in a day and age when I can visit the globe, and be there within a day—albeit discomforted by a cramped coach seat.
I am thankful for all those—be it inventors, manufacturers, workers, technicians and more-- who have enabled me to move from typing on stencils and using that blue correction fluid and then using a mimeograph machine to produce a monthly message for the synagogue bulletin, which had to be collated, stapled and then zip-code sorted before being mailed, to almost seamlessly producing my weekly message on a computer and having it e-mailed.
And, of course, I am thankful for family and friends who enrich my life.
I have but added a few more to what is in fact a large list, as we are so dependent upon the skills and kindnesses of many people. If we pause to think about it, there are many things for which we should thankful and many people whose efforts have made our lives so much better.
A joyous and thankful Thanksgiving and Shabbat shalom.
Chadashot MeYisrael: News From Israel
Israeli Oneophile Heaven: Making it Into the Top 100
Every year, the Wine Spectator editors taste 18,000 wines from vineyards around the globe in order to choose the best 100 of them. This is the first time that wine made in Israel makes onto the prestigious list.
The magazine's managing editor, Kim Marcus, described the Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee, which ranked 93rd on the list, as "a rich red, showing good power to the mineral-infused dried blackberry, dark plum and current flavors. Engaging dried herbal notes emerge on the focused finish." It received a score of 90.
The Recanati Winery was founded in 2000 in the industrial zone of Israel's Hefer Valley in the Sharon region. Following its inclusion on the prestigious list, orders have been pouring in from all around the world. This an exciting achievement," said Lenny Recanati, one of the winery's owners, stressing that the Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee costs NIS 60 (about $16) while the top 100 list includes wines which cost as much $150 per bottle. We market all around the world, including to the British royal family," said Recanati Winery CEO Noam Jacoby, "and I have no doubt that we'll continue producing excellent wines in the years to come."
A footnote. The magazine only goes on sale next week, though the top 100 list is available on-line. It appears that the wine is the 2012 vintage. Here in the States, I have found the wine for about what it goes for in Israel, and perhaps a couple of dollars less! Recanati also makes a reserve and special reserve versions, which are more expensive. For example, the 2010 reserve is available for about $23, but the 2011 special reserve costs almost twice as much, coming in at $42.
A Comment on the Weekly Torah Portion
The Torah portion of Kee Taytsay (Genesis 30:14-31:16) is read this Saturday, November 29th.
30:23 She [Rachel] conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” (24) So she named him Joseph, which is to say, “May the Lord add another son for me.”
30:23 “God has taken away my disgrace.” This passage has troubled all of the commentators. It is possible in that age every man married two women, as they said [Bereshit Rabbah 23:2] on the verse “And Lemech took two wives, Adah and Zillah” “This was the way of the generation of the flood: one for reproduction and one for sex. And the one who was designated for sex would be made to drink a cup of sterility in order that she would be infertile and would adorn her like a bride and feed her delicacies and her companion [the reproductive wife] would be reprimanded and mournful like a widow, as Job interpreted [Job 24:21] :’He ill-treats the barren that bears no; and to the widow he acts not well.’ …”
And so the mockers of that generation used to say that Jacob had two wives, and that Rachel was the pretty one, suitable for sex, and hence she didn’t give birth because they had made her drink the cup of sterility, whereas Leah who gave birth was not pretty and hence gave him sons. And this was a great embarrassment, for it was though she was a prostitute with him. And now that she had given birth the best of them would say that the bones of these purveyors of evil speech should swell. And this is the meaning of “God has taken away my disgrace.” And this is a very important matter. (Rabbeinu Yitzchak Karo, Sefer Toledot Yitzchak: Payrush L’Chameshah Chumshay Torah. Born in 1458 in Toledo, he was exiled from Spain in 1492 and found refuge in Lisbon, where he established a yeshiva. Fleeing Portugal a few years later, as the Portuguese prohibited Judaism, he ended up in Istanbul, though all but one of his sons died in transit. In 1517 he completed his commentary----this volume—on the Torah. He is said to have moved to Israel, soon thereafter, to Jerusalem, though some scholars place him in Damascus. He died in 1535 His students collected some of his philosophical sermons in a volume entitled Chasdei David. More recently, a volume exploring his sermons was published in Hebrew, in Israel by Shaul Regev. Some of his responsa appear as an addendum to the responsa of his famous nephew, Rabbi Joseph Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch. (Rabbi Karo also served as a physician.)